When I think of my blogging life, I often recall the evolution map that was in every science textbook I had during my grammar school years.
You know the one: the crawling chimp growing and growing into a bipedal human over the course of millions of years (perhaps not the greatest analogy, but I think you get the gist). Almost all of us, I would imagine, started out as anonymous blog readers at one point. I sure did: I'd pinpoint my beginnings as a blogger right around the summer of 2010. I read for a long time without ever commenting or otherwise making my presence known in any way, and it'd be about a year before I made the crazy decision to launch a blog of my own.
Thankfully, some readers take a little more initiative in their blog prowls, like Chris B. who turned out to be my Secret Santa thanks to the festivities held by Jon this year.
I'm (obviously) a bit late in posting Chris's Secret Santa goodies, but that's no knock against them -- it provided a pleasant mix of a lot of things I collect.
I'm still a bit baffled by this National Treasure coin of new binder inductee Khris Davis: I have no recollection of this brand and they're among the thickest cards I've ever handled, though I'm definitely partial to the gold-etched 'fro on the front.
Me, I can't imagine my life without a blog of my own -- but I do often wonder about the mindsets of people like Chris who appear simply content to read and observe us bloggers from afar.
And I stress observing, because readers do it well: these two Cubs were much appreciated, though I'd suggest not looking at that Rizzo for too long because it might make your computer overheat and spontaneously combust.
More various set needs from Chris, which are excellent since so few Christmas gifts allow me to cross off numbers on my want lists.
Over time, at least in my case, reading dissolves into the weird urge to start a blog of one's own -- and then you have people like Gavin of "Baseball Card Breakdown" fame who have been going strong for years now.
I can't tell you what the straw that broke the camel's back was in terms of the moment I decided to create my blog. It wasn't some grand revelation. I suppose I was just sitting around reading one night and thought: Hey, I have some stuff I'd like to say about my baseball cards. I had a blog set up about an hour later, and a first post not long after that.
And thus I took the next step on the evolution map, going from reader to blogger.
Gavin has pretty much been the Custom King of the Blogs from the moment he started his own blog, which I think was evident in the PWE I recently received from him.
As much as I enjoy the A&G Darvish insert above, these two customs blow it out of the water -- especially that Beltre which depicts possibly the most glorious ejection in baseball history.
Gavin also filled in some of the gaps left in last year's Sandlot Archives inserts with these excellent customs, including two different variations of The Great Bambino, The Colossus of Clout, The King of Crash, all those other silly names.
But Gavin saved the big wallop for last: a real Calbee Sadaharu Oh card!
This looks to be from the same set as the Oh I received from Dad a few Christmases ago, and it's nice to have one that's not graded (and not to mention one that's a dual mini-collection hit!). I thought it might've been a custom at first because never in my wildest dreams did I imagine anyone would ever send me something like this.
I still don't quite believe it -- but then again so much of my blogging life seems like a fantasy sometimes.
And as luck would have it, I received another custom-filled PWE from Gavin just yesterday, which arrived just in time for me to sneak it into this post!
Among the goods were these two brilliant cardboard fantasies -- a minor league Satch and a card of Willie McCovey's brief and heretofore undocumented stint with the A's at the tail end of the '76 season.
Gavin also whipped up a couple more movie-themed customs, including one of Art LaFleur's other major baseball film role as Chick Gandil in Field of Dreams, which (unpopular opinion alert) I actually don't think is that great of a movie.
And yes, Gavin filled yet another gap left in Topps's Sandlot inserts by featuring Older Benny (played by Pablo Vitar, the real-life older brother of Mike Vitar, who played Benny) on the '72 design, but I have to say...
...I dig the back a bit more than the front because Gavin came up with a complete bio and "stats" for Benny the Jet(!), who looks to be a potential MVP candidate there with the Dodgers.
I could say so much more, but for now, I say this: these are the types of things that make me so glad I decided to become a blogger on that fateful night seven long years ago.
I've seen more blogs come and go than I can count during my years here. Some departures have pained me more than others, but perhaps none more so than the extended break (as I choose to view it) of Mark's "This Way to the Clubhouse..." blog. I myself stepped away from the blogs a few years ago, and even though I wasn't too happy with the decision, I can honestly say that it was probably best for the long-term health of my blogging life.
I'm hoping it's the same for Mark, but in the meantime, it's good to know that he's still dropping surprise PWEs on me, especially ones packed with mini-collection hits.
Mark and I have been trading for a long time, and I've long noticed his uncanny ability to find new Darryl Kile cards for my collection.
Blue parallels seem to work especially well for Cubs cards, and I don't think I have to tell you why.
In the grand scheme of things, I guess my blogging lifespan hasn't been as linear as that standard evolution map. I've gone from reader to blogger to ghost to reader (again) to blogger (again) during my years here.
But when I look back on those formative years of blogging, and all the transitions within, I see nothing but happiness.